penny-whistle, noun

Music. Used attributively in Special Combinations, as penny-whistle music, penny-whistle group, etc., designating kwela music (in which this small metal flageolet features prominently), or the musicians who play it; kwela sense 2.
Note:
The penny-whistle was popular among working-class township residents from the early nineteen-hundreds, initially because of its low cost. Over the years, in using it to play music of various styles, township musicians developed innovative techniques which extended its capabilities from both a musical and an expressive point of view. Their virtuosity on the instrument was one of the central features of kwela music.
1951 Drum Mar. 14My feet just wouldn’t stop beating out that Boogie-tempo of Cele’s Penny Whistle phrasing.
1958 Star 3 Feb.Lemmy the 12-year-old leader of a penny whistle group, performs on a Johannesburg pavement.
1958 Time 16 June 37The haunting sound of penny-whistle jazz has become the favorite music of South Africa’s slum-caged blacks — and of a great many white hipsters.
1960 C. Hooper Brief Authority 66Boys..would climb the mulberry trees, turn the hose on the delighted dog, kick a tennis ball about, teach each other penny whistle tunes.
1963 B. Modisane Blame Me on Hist. (1986) 117My life is like the penny whistle music spinning on eternally with the same repetitive persistency.
1963 B. Modisane Blame Me on Hist. (1986) 173White opinion..had..become concerned over the spectacle of white teenagers following black penny-whistle troupes to the zoo lake.
1980 E. Patel They Came at DawnThe penny whistle melodies and the rhythm of cataclysmic change whisper into grass huts, rickety shanties, brick and mortar houses, granite prisons.
1983 J. De Ridder Sad Laughter Mem. 63There were five boys moving in slow circles, jiving in the dust in front of a penny-whistle player.
1984 Sunday Times 1 Apr. (Mag. Sect.) 35The number is a sharp up-tempo electro-pennywhistle-jive ballad.
1988 New Nation 25 Feb. 11The development of kwela music during the mid-40s..influenced him the most. It was just after this period that people started classifying any music with township rhythms as kwela, without realising that it referred specifically to penny whistle music.
1990 New African 11 June 13Combine Marabi music and the penny-whistle music of the black slums of South Africa, and you’ll find the origins of kwela music — regarded as an authentic expression of black urban culture in South Africa...Kwela was..transformed by many musically literate jazz players who had performed marabi on penny-whistle as youngsters. They readily adapted to the new style, replacing the penny-whistle — regarded as a child’s instrument — with the saxophone and creating jazz-kwela.
1991 P. Alexander in Weekly Mail 28 Mar. 27Mango Groove..is a curious hybrid.., leaning heavily on the penny whistle and kwela themes of the Fifties.
designating kwela music (in which this small metal flageolet features prominently), or the musicians who play it; kwela2.
Derivatives:
Hence penny-whistler noun, one who plays (kwela music on) the penny-whistle. See also kwela sense 1.
1982 Grocott’s Mail 18 May 3It is an enthralling story peopled with the legendary pennywhistlers of Sophiatown and the early music moguls.
1987 Weekly Mail 12 June 28Peto will be supported by Sangema, featuring penny whistler Robert Sithole.
1988 M. Le Chat in Flying Springbok Apr. 28District Six was a vibrant place where..crooners, penny-whistlers and saxophonists would play on street corners.

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19511991

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